What Is Open Communication? (With Benefits and Importance)
Updated December 9, 2022
Open communication can significantly improve collaboration between people within the same organization. If you work in a managerial role, communicating openly with team members and anyone else involved in your projects can lead to better efficiency. Knowing what open communication is and how to encourage it in the workplace can be a valuable skill that you can improve through practice. In this article, we discuss what open communication is, why it's important, different ways to encourage it and its main benefits.
What is open communication?
Open communication is when people can openly express their thoughts and ideas to one another. In a business setting, an organization can implement open communication by encouraging all employees to express their feedback and thoughts. This can make employees feel more valuable to the company, which may improve employee loyalty and productivity.
Related: 4 Communication Styles
Why is open communication important?
Here are some of the main reasons open communication is important for organizations:
It can improve engagement. Encouraging employees to express their thoughts and feelings openly can help them engage more, which may increase their commitment to an organization. Highly engaged employees also tend to deliver better results.
It can promote inclusion. Encouraging open communication can also make employees feel more included. Employees who believe that their opinion is valuable to the company's management are usually more likely to offer constructive feedback.
It can strengthen team bonds. A workplace atmosphere where everyone openly communicates is typically more efficient. Open communication within teams can also lead to greater accountability from employees and help them realize that their work is important for the success of their team.
It can enhance trust. An organization with employees who know that constructive criticism can positively affect their careers may have a stronger level of trust between employees and management. This trust can help employees feel safe in their roles, which may lead to greater productivity.
Related: Q&A: Why Is Communication Important?
7 ways to encourage open communication
Consider these seven methods of improving open communication within your organization:
1. Make it part of your company culture
Letting every employee know that their feedback is welcome and even expected is typically a good way of encouraging open communication. Employees who recognize that open communication is part of the company culture are usually more open to expressing their ideas freely. Company procedures, training materials and similar documents should also encourage employees to share their feedback.
2. Train management to communicate openly
Company leaders who actively promote open communication can be good examples for other employees in an organization to follow. It's important for all managers and supervisors to learn how to encourage the employees under their supervision to communicate openly so they can effectively lead others. Management can attend a leadership training program to learn why open communication is important and how they can implement open communication policies in an organization.
Related: How To Be a Good Communicator
3. Consistently ask employees for their input
As a leader, you can encourage open communication by consistently asking employees for input on various decisions, even if it's not within their area of expertise. You don't necessarily have to use every employee's ideas, but having them express their thoughts about a certain problem is likely to make them feel more valued and respected. It can also help them understand that they can freely approach you if they have any feedback to share.
4. Conduct anonymous surveys on internal matters
Having employees respond to anonymous surveys is another efficient way of improving open communication in the workplace. By granting them anonymity, you can encourage employees to express their ideas freely and safely. Being anonymous can help make employees feel more comfortable sharing their thoughts with the company.
5. Implement efficient ways to share ideas
Besides encouraging employees to express their ideas directly, you can implement several other methods to promote open communication in the workplace. For example, having a chat-based software tool that all employees can access and share ideas through can be an efficient way of getting employees to provide feedback on various topics. You can also schedule regular meetings with the goal of getting employee feedback.
6. Always show respect to employees
Employees who feel respected may be more open to communicating their ideas freely. You can improve that level of respect by giving each employee your full attention when talking to them. You can also ask them questions regarding their ideas and feedback to show them that you're actively listening and acknowledging their thoughts.
7. Ask employees about solutions to problems
Whenever an issue arises within the organization, taking a direct approach and asking employees for feedback regarding potential solutions can encourage them to communicate openly in the future. It can also improve operations by resolving any issues among employees. Encouraging open communication by asking employees for feedback on crucial matters can motivate them to find solutions to problems.
Benefits of open communication
Here are some of the main benefits of implementing open communication in the workplace:
It tends to improve productivity. The main benefit of implementing open communication policies is having increased productivity from employees. Letting employees know that the company wants them to express their ideas can improve morale, which usually leads to greater productivity.
It can improve employee confidence. Try to give each employee the confidence to express themselves and security in knowing that their feedback is welcome. This may result in more loyal employees and better work performances.
It can reduce cultural gaps between employees. Some organizations have a diverse workforce, such as having employees from many different cultures. Having these employees communicate openly with each other and with management can result in a more united workplace.
It can improve employee loyalty. Having employees who regularly communicate openly with each other can improve their loyalty to the organization. This can allow them to gain more trust in the organization's leadership and management style.
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